Tag: traditions

Merry Christmas

Some people love Christmas “the whole Christmas season,
Please don’t ask ME why, I don’t know the reason”*

Original Image from Papercards.com

Others might say “bah-humbug” or plot against “every Who down in Whoville” during December.

A guy who needs no introduction
A guy who needs no introduction

December 24th is generally my favorite day of the month. It brings my family to my home. We sing carols around the piano (loudly enough to camouflage my hack job on the piano). There is food, laughter and a true appreciation for the gift exchange.

Christmas Eve game time in 2013
Christmas Eve game time in 2013

Not that I’m morally opposed to Christmas morning. It holds its own set of wonder and tradition.

PJs and Presents - Christmas morning 2013
PJs and Presents – Christmas morning 2013

This year, I’m especially thankful that my adult sons and their women are going to spend the night on Christmas Eve. Because they want to carry on our Christmas morning traditions for one more year.

Sometimes Mom gets the biggest gift. I always get the BEST gift: family
Sometimes Mom gets the biggest gift. I always get the BEST gift: family

Christmas dinner is always fabulous. My husband’s mother cooks enough for half the county and it’s all delicious. This year, she’s roasting a turkey rather than a prime rib. Best of all, she’s going to make cornbread dressing!

Don’t count on leftovers of that ambrosia.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

*Something of a mis-quoted quote from my all-time favorite Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Perfect Date

Every wedding has a perfect date, right? The calendar around our house includes a big red heart over January 2, 2016.

My first reaction to this date was: what? Won’t it interfere with all the hoopla surrounding New Year’s Day? After all, the day before the wedding is usually the rehearsal. The day before that is often reserved for Bachelor/Bachelorette parties.

How will all this mesh amongst the regular holiday fervor?

Somehow, it will.

Reasons why a Winter Wedding needed to be close to Christmas

My future daughter has a lovely party of four young ladies. Three of them are still in college. Two of them attend college out of state. One of them works for the school.

Reason number one: This is a convenient time for her special girls.

Snowflakes are central to her decoration motif. So, having something closer to Christmas – before December 25 – would probably tend to include red, green, poinsettias and Christmas Trees. Not the look she’s going for.

Reason number two: She doesn’t want her wedding to compete with Christmas.

Did you dream about your wedding? Did you imagine certain colors and people? Maybe you wanted a summer wedding because that is so traditional. Good luck booking a popular location if you choose to “follow the crowd.”

Reason number three: Who wants to be like everyone else?

The colors she loves – turquoise, lavender and silver – scream a season, don’t they? You can picture the chill of ice in that pale blue. A winter sunrise tints the horizon lavender. And who doesn’t love the silvery sheen of icicles and snowflakes?

Reason number four: Her colors meshed perfectly with a winter wonderland.

How we plan to Cope

People are creatures of habit, sure. They have their set gatherings for December 31st. How will possible wedding-related activities fit into this hectic schedule?

  • The people who care about this wedding will happily adjust their schedules.
  • What’s wrong with a rehearsal dinner in place of a traditional New Year’s Day feast?
  • This wedding will only intrude once. Stop grumbling. Adapt!
  • It’s going to be such a special time, no one will want to miss it.

Certainly things around our house will look different during Christmas 2015 as we push toward the day-after New Year’s wedding celebration. Different doesn’t mean bad.

In my world of an empty nest, it’s time to stir up the family traditions anyway. Adding daughters (and eventually grandchildren) deserves to take precedence over long-standing “We’ve always done it this way” traditions.

What’s your thought? Do you think most people will embrace this interruption to their usual New Year’s traditions?

All I Want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas is to skip the whole thing.

I’m not looking forward to it. At all. I have reasons. Darn good ones too. So why don’t you hear me out before you label me “Scrooge” and move on?

Reason #1

Last year my mother was in the hospital at Christmas. This year – she’s in Heaven.

While that’s great for her, it leaves a pretty large hole in our family. If you knew my mother, you would understand that her shoes might have appeared small, but they are impossibly unfillable.

Just like I cried through Mother’s Day, I have to face my first Christmas without my mom. It’s not easy. They say people are more depressed at Christmas than any other time of the year. And I can see it.

It’s a time built around memories. Sometimes memories hurt. Grief cuts like a knife.

This is the biggest reason I vote for skipping directly from December 23rd to December 26th this year. I have others…

Reason #2

Things are changing in the old Hughson household.

This year, Christmas morning will be different. Next year, it will be different again. I’m the one who instituted a host of Christmas morning traditions. Same breakfast. Same cocoa. Same reading of Luke 2.

Change is great. It is inevitable. It is not for Christmas.

Reason #3

I am going to Mexico for a week and return home on December 20th.

This is great news for my sun-loving psyche.

This is horrible news for the traditional holiday baking plans. I am not planning to decorate my house – must keep it staged for prospective buyers for one thing. Who will water the tree while we’re gone? Why do I want to expend energy decorating when I’ll be gone for a week?

Reason #4

I get sick of all the hype and materialism. I’ve posted about that subject in the past.

Christmas is about two things in my world: Jesus and family. None of that needs a Black Friday for shopping explosions and excellent deals. I’m happy to sit around singing carols and playing games while with my family. Who wants to fight the crowds to find the perfect gift only to realize – there is no such thing?

Reason #5

Everything gets topsy-turvy in my daily schedule once December arrives.

I just want to lock myself away with my computer and finish writing something. I want to check off my writing goals and reach that pedestal of published bliss.

Yes, I’m out of touch with reality. This could be why I write fantasy novels.

No one is going to fast forward past the next few weeks. I don’t want to miss a moment of the family vacation in Mexico.

I might want to skip Christmas, but it won’t happen. As the Grinch found out,

“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!”

I guess there’s no chance for me to actually skip Christmas, is there? In that case, all I want for Christmas is … a happy day with my family.

The Death of Summer and its Final Barbecue

Image from hooverwebdesign.com

Labor Day marks the official end of summer. The Tuesday following kids head back to school.

On the west coast anyway. Elsewhere in the US, kids have been back to school for a week or two already. It’s hard for those on this coast to let go of summer.

Isn’t it a given that the preferred cooking method after Memorial Day is the barbeque? Gas, propane, wood or charcoal may fuel it, but it’s the way beef is done – in July.

Sometimes a handful of family members might recline on the deck at our house. Other years, we’ve loaded up the essentials and taken our Farewell to Summer Party to a park.

So it was this year. Since our youngest son is already in class at college (that Quaker school he attends does things a little “other coastal,” if you get my meaning), it was a gathering with friends. Specifically friends from our church.

Hot dogs and hamburgers might make the grade during the summer, but at the last barbecue, a few other dishes are required.

First of all, fresh corn on the cob is essential. Roasted directly in the coals wearing its own husk makes it downright delicious. Grilling it on the barbie will satisfy, but if you bring out the boiling water, we will cry.

September is corn harvest season on the left coast. You can see overloaded semi-trucks with the golden delicacy. Come back in October for the largest corn maze this side of the Rockies.

Another staple on Labor Day is watermelon. The best watermelons in the world are grown in Hermiston, Oregon. I can eat the heart out of one of these juicy red mamas.

In fact, one of my worst memories from tweenhood centers around my ability to do just that. Apparently, it’s okay to eat your own heart out, but it’s a heinous act of selfishness to eat the heart out of a watermelon.

So said the blistering tongue-lashing my father gave me when I at the heart out of that melon. It sat covered and minding its own business atop the washing machine. It even had black seeds in it. Actually, they marked the edges of the succulent heart.

Back to the last barbeque…it’s nice to recline in the camp chairs around a fire pit roasting corn. It’s even more glorious when the sun agrees to drive the clouds away and spill a golden spotlight on the gathering.

Games you might enjoy at summer’s goodbye bash: volleyball, badminton, softball or horseshoes. Regardless of the choice, there will be lots of ribbing for the losers (as if losing wasn’t its own form of ridicule). My mom liked to call this “Love talk.” You only tease those you love, she said. The worse the taunting, the deeper the love.

Love flows at both ends of the horseshoe pits. Camp chairs line the sides (a safe distance away) and love talk sails with more regularity than ringers.

Alas, summer gives up the ghost for another nine months. The red, yellow and brown leaves already announce autumn’s arrival.

Best of all, school starts. But for the second time since 1997, that means nothing to me. The Tuesday after Labor Day is just another day pulled up to my desk letting my fingers find the right way to spill words on a page.

Summer may have ended, but my novel has a few more chapters before it makes way for a new season.

What traditions do you have for Labor Day?

Family Movie Night

familymovienight.marquee

Friday night for years meant two things: pizza and movies. Before our sons had a social calendar rivaling Paris Hilton, we would rent two movies, pick up a pizza and chill out in the family room.

This was back when the movies came from Blockbuster. Conveniently, our movie rental store was located two doors down from the Papa Murphy’s. That’s what I call one-stop shopping.

Fresh popcorn and fresh-baked pizza both stimulate the same response for me. It must be time for a movie.

We would fill our paper plates with slices of gooey pizza and sit in front of the TV. During the intermission between films, popcorn aromatized the house.

Soon basketball games and theater productions honed in on movie night. It didn’t work as well on Saturday night. Never did figure out a concrete explanation for this.

Change is inevitable. Kids are supposed to mature and find interests outside of their family. Encouraging them to invite friends to hang out at our house kept me in the loop longer than many parents.

Once the kids moved out, my husband and I dropped back into this familiar pattern. We tried to make it a “date night” but after a long week of work, that seemed like too much effort. Our dates became Saturday afternoon affairs.

Friday movie night isn’t the same anyway. We vary the type of take-out food (Chinese, pizza, Subway) and the movies come in the mail from Netflix. It isn’t the same. Are two people a “family”?

What sort of family traditions did you miss as you grew older? Can you recommend any new “couple-centric” things to replace movie night?

Being Right Means being Able to apologize

Yeah, I’ve had this same conversation

A few weeks ago, I posted about maintaining family traditions around the holidays. I didn’t say there was no room for change, but I did mention conversations held with my son.

He responded to the post (which you can read here) by saying he felt he had been misrepresented. I made him look bad.

My niece, who had been privy to one such conversation about traditions, said I reported things as they actually happened. If he felt the truth made him look bad, then my son should consider that a mirror and change accordingly.

Realize these are my summations and interpretations of the postings. They can be seen on Facebook, if you want to read them in black and white.

I want to apologize for any misrepresentation of my son. He is a great, opinionated man with strong convictions. I don’t want him to change. I admire the man he has become.

However, as a man, he does seem to possess the flaw that many of the male persuasion fall prey to: the inability to admit it when they’re wrong.

I’m not saying women don’t fall into this trap. Some do. Not me. I’m so excited when I’m right that it paints a smile on my face for the entire day. I capitulate when I’m wrong (at least I vocally admit my error).

After all, arguing rarely changes anything. It makes people mad and causes tension. I’ll pass, thank you very much.

I didn’t mean to make my son look bad, so for that I apologize. The fact that he commented on the post at all means he understands the truth of the matter. I’ll accept that as his “I was wrong” admission.

We have to take these small victories where we find them.

Have you ever apologized when you were in the right? I’d love to commiserate with you about this seeming contradiction in the realm of truth and justice.

 

Tradition or Bust

Annual Cookie Baking Day
Annual Cookie Baking Day

A great irony greeted me. The source was flesh of my flesh. Traditions that had been acclaimed as unchangeable fell beneath the barrage of personal plans.

A son of mine was incensed when I mentioned to him last year in December that things were changing. The kids were becoming adults. Soon, the family Christmas traditions of his childhood would become a thing of the past.

One of the tragedies of adulthood – you have to let the childish things go.

“We will always get together on Christmas Eve. All of us.” His emphatic announcement of one year ago.

When you get married, I told him, you might discover that your spouse’s family has their own Christmas Eve traditions. Somehow, the two of you will meld these into a new set of traditions for your own household.

This is how it happened for me. Christmas Eve was born after my mom remarried and her husband’s parents had a mandatory Christmas Day gathering. Mom’s family gathered on Christmas Eve and the other family on Christmas Day.

Happily, this worked right into my husband’s family traditions. They had never really celebrated on the eve before Christmas. It became the time my mom, sister and I brought our families together to exchange gifts.

Every year, we added another item to the tradition. The kids performed a pageant of sorts every year. My husband and I shared a Biblical perspective on the holiday. Gathering around the piano to sing carols is the newest addition to the list.

Christmas Eve caroling
Christmas Eve caroling

This is what my son wants to continue.

Except this year he will be spending Christmas Eve “day” with his girlfriend’s family. What happened to the tradition being set in stone?

I’m sad that my son will miss most of the festivities. “I’ll be there by 4pm,” he says. Just in time for darkness to fall and gifts to be exchanged. After most of the other traditional happenings are finished.

Did I say “I told you so” to my son? Not in so many words, but I parroted his words from twelve months ago back to him.

Did he say, “You were right, Mom. Things are going to change”? *Falls on the floor laughing* That would be an emphatic “no.”

But we both know who won this argument. If there was an argument. Which there wasn’t because that’s not part of our traditional Christmas. Ha!

What traditions do you hope to hold onto as your children grow into adulthood?

Easter: What Does it Mean?

Easter: another holiday that can inspire aisles of candy in WalMart. Is it just another excuse to eat to much or indulge in chocolate?

Plenty of children grow up searching for colored eggs hidden in the grass, under trees, beside vehicle tires and tucked among flowers in the windowbox. These days, the festive egg hunt doesn’t have to include dye-stained fingers or weeks of egg salad sandwiches. After all, you can buy two dozen plastic eggs for a buck. Stuff them with candy (or money for the older kids) and the hunt is on.

My family will have a structured dinner on Easter. It will include ham, buttered noodles, vegetables (probably not asparagus, my favorite), salad and dessert (sounds like cheesecake this year). We’ll laugh and play games together.

Of course, we’ll be in church first. Easter means resurrection day to me and my family. There will be songs about Jesus Christ defeating death by raising from the grave. I’ll reflect on what his power over death means to me in the future.

I’m not getting any younger. The closer I get to death, the more I revel in the fact that death is not an end. The conqueror of death lives and promises eternal life to me, as well.

I love chocolate as much as the next person (more than some, like my husband), but the true meaning of Easter surpasses a lifetime of chocolate fixes.

What does Easter mean to you? Do you have any special Easter traditions?